Praying James 5 – A Warning

Praying James 5 – A Warning

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 4 crazy, homeschooling children ages 9 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.

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When Praying James is Hard

We are entering into the last chapter of James.  I’ll warn you, the first part is a scolding. It’s easy to read this passage and want to apply it to someone else. But let’s be careful not to do that. Let’s focus on our own hearts, because those are the only hearts we can change. We can encourage others hearts but it’s better if we take care of our own first. This goes back to taking a splinter out of someone else’s eye before we take the plank out of ours.

I know, you probably feel like this warning isn’t for you, but be careful. None of us are perfect. If we have been blessed at all by God, we are wealthy! One day every single material possession we have will be gone. Will what is in our possession to glorify God or will it eventually rot away without being a blessing?

Lord, instead of waging our finger at someone else, we pray that we will look into our own hearts. Let us take this warning to heart personally. Show us where in our lives we are holding on to the things of this world instead of sharing your blessings with others. In Jesus name – Amen!

A Warning

James 5:1-2

Dear Lord, when you warn of condemnation that is coming we want to believe it’s for someone else and not us. But your warnings are to help all of us re-examine our hearts to make sure that we are not putting anything including wealth in your place.

Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit and how He helps us examine our hearts. May we be honest with ourselves to see if we are putting our hope in money and the things we have or in you.

You are the only truly secure thing in our lives. Help us not be deceived into thinking that the blessings you have given us are more important than you. Those things can all disappear in an instant. They will not save us. Only you will.

May we put our trust fully in you so that in the end we will not be weeping and wailing but will be rejoicing in you.

In the One who is coming soon – Amen!

James 5:3

Praise you, Lord, for your patience! You do not want to lose anyone. You are constantly warning us to look outside of ourselves. To look to you, a God who gives and meets all our needs, and share the blessings you have given us with others. It helps no one to hoard blessings and keep them from being used.

Oh, Lord, may we not allow your blessings to be wasted! Instead, let us hold onto your word in Luke 6:38,

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Let us have a grace and a giving spirit that not only exceeds the expectations of others but shows your benevolence and goodness. Not only in how we love others but in how we give as well. Let this continue to echo in our hearts so that when Satan tries to get us to place security in things instead of security in you, we can hold onto you tighter and let those things go.

In the One who will provide in ways we can’t imagine – Amen!

James 5:4

How thankful we are, Lord, that you are just and hear the cries of those suffering at the hands of others. When they have been deceived and not received what was promised to them upon completing their work, they along with their entire families suffer. They cry out to you for help and justice and you hear them.

Selfish greed overtakes honesty and steals right out of the mouths of others.

Lord, let us search our hearts and see where selfishness is hidden. We cannot fathom ourselves doing this to others but selfishness starts out small and snowballs into injustice. Bring to our attention where we allow selfishness to reign in our lives, so that with your help we can deal with it swiftly and be able to help care and stand up for those who are mistreated.

In the One who knows us better than we know ourselves – Amen!

James 5:5

When we fix our eyes on anything but you, Lord, we miss a glorious opportunity to live the life of self-sacrifice that you call us to live.

Your life showed us that denying self for a little while will bring you honor and us eternal joy that starts now. Help us, Lord, to not become entangled by the luxuries of this life. Help us to choose your comfort over the quickly disappearing comforts of the world.

We never want to hear that we chose anything over you. May we search our hearts daily to make sure these things are not taking top priority.

In the One who sacrificed himself for us – Amen!

James 5:6

Lord, we want to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you.

Living without mercy or considering the needs around us, but instead hoarding all of the blessings we have been given just for ourselves is evil in your eyes. It is careless and unloving. Does this equal murder in your eyes? When we could have helped someone by sharing what we have, but keep it for ourselves is this condemning them to death, when we could have otherwise saved them by sharing?

You say that “anyone who knows the good they out to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”

Lord, help us not to overlook those you have put in our path to serve. We don’t want to miss the opportunity to serve you because we are fixated on holding on to things that will eventually fade away.

May we truly act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you.

In the One who always takes our actions to the heart of the matter – Amen!

 

 

Five Encouraging Psalms to Start Your Day

Five Encouraging Psalms to Start Your Day

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

What does your morning look like? Do you jump out of bed, heading straight to the window? Or maybe you’re more like me and you press snooze several times before slowly dragging yourself to the coffee maker. You might be busy getting ready for work, meeting the needs of your family, or you might be in a season of life that offers a more relaxed approach. Regardless of how our mornings might look, there is one morning ritual we can all benefit from, and that is acknowledging God’s presence.

 

I am certainly not a natural morning person, but I do enjoy waking up early to have quiet time with God. I usually start my quiet time with a cup of coffee and a short verse before diving into my prayer journal and Bible study. A scripture beforehand helps me meet God, and remember who He is before I enjoy His presence.

But you don’t have to enter a long study with the Father to find encouragement from a short psalm in the morning. To be honest, I’m not always diligent about making time for morning devotion. I could pour out excuses about the distractions I face with motherhood, but the truth is that I found excuses before I became a mom too. The devil prowls around, wanting to pull us away from our Father however he can. All the more reason why we need to meet with Jesus as we start our day! 

 

With the new year, I have, like many others, set a goal to be more disciplined in my devotion and study time. It is always good to prioritize some quiet time with the Lord! Sometimes, though, we can get discouraged. When we don’t know how to shell out an hour we just give up. God is so much more merciful than we give Him credit for! Yes, He wants us to give him time. He wants us in his Word. That should be more important to us than anything, but there is power in His name. Simply taking a short moment to recognize His presence at the beginning of each day can give us so much power as we go forward. Power to live for him! A short psalm is a wonderful way to acknowledge our Father God.

 

I want to encourage you to make time every morning to acknowledge God. (I’m encouraging myself to remember this as well!) You don’t have to start out with a long study. Start simple, with a verse and a short prayer. Our little girl loves to see her daddy in the mornMaybe the morning isn’t a good time for you to focus, and you want to have quiet time later in the day. If so, that is awesome! There is still something so wonderful about taking a moment to meet God in the morning.  Our little girl loves to see her daddy in the morning. Her eyes get big and she grins from ear to ear as she runs toward him. My husband loves these greetings. I think that’s how our heavenly Father wants to meet us each day. 

So write these verses down or type them in your phone! Read one as you wait for your coffee to brew, dry your hair, nurse your baby, before you start your quiet time, or even before you hop out of bed. I pray they will encourage you as you begin your days!

Five Encouraging Psalms to Start Your Day  

Psalm 90:14     Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Psalm 46:5     God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.

Psalm 143:8     Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.

Psalm 23:5     My cup overflows with blessings. (NLT)

Psalm 139:18     And when I wake up, you are still with me! (NLT)

 

There are verses all over the Bible (not just from Psalms) that can offer encouragement in the morning! Which Bible verses do you enjoy waking up to?

 

 

 

My Valentine’s Day Confession

My Valentine’s Day Confession

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 4 crazy, homeschooling children ages 9 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.

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Valentine’s Day is supposed to be the most romantic day of the year. I perceive it differently.This perception has inspired me in how I love.

As a child we had fun with it. Getting to choose, who got which valentine’s card and what treat went with it.Taking the time to make cards that weren’t perfect but heartfelt.

My Valentine’s Day Confession

As I grew, my fondness for Valentine’s day wore off. My girlfriends and I would gather together to have anti-Valentine’s Day parties. We would make cookies with black frosting and celebrate our friendship even if we were dating someone at the time. We were determined not to let one day determine whether or not love was in the air.

That has seemed to carry on into my marriage as well. I no longer make cookies and frost them with black icing but my husband knows that gifting me something on the day doesn’t thrill me. That sounds kinda rude or mean, but the truth of the matter is because this day seems commercially forced upon us, it feels more like a day of obligation than of love.

I’d rather have a year full of small expressions of love than a day of forced love. If this day was not called Valentine’s Day would there still be a compulsive out flowing of love? 

What does our “love” look like to God?

I wonder how often God looks down on our time of worship and pines for our love to flow throughout the week instead of just seeing it expressed for a couple of hours. Do we pray, read our Bibles, sing songs, or even worship with the church out of obligation and compulsion or because we can’t help but express our love that way?

That has to be part of the reason why God gave us the choice to love Him. Forced love is no love at all but simply submission to what has to be.

Real love is willing to sacrifice itself and die to self for the sake of another.

“I will find you!”

My husband and I have a running joke. Sometimes, when we say good-bye or don’t know when we will see each other again because of hectic schedules, we will say in a husky voice, “I will find you!” (Think Daniel Day Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans, my favorite movie.)

This simple phrase when said, not only makes us laugh, but conveys the thought that no matter what  is going on, we will be there for each other. We will go after and sacrifice ourselves for each other, if need be.

Jesus came from heaven to earth to find us! He came to save us long before we ever realized we need saving. He knocks on our door and we get to choose whether or not we open our hearts to receive his love and love Him back.

A Valentine’s Day Question

As you ponder what love is on this day, will you ask yourself this question:

Are you loving God and willing to sacrifice your life for Him, or are you just going through the motions because you feel this is something you need to do?

Keeping Anger from Exploding into Sin

Keeping Anger from Exploding into Sin

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 4 crazy, homeschooling children ages 9 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.

Latest posts by Kristi F (see all)

Anger unchecked is explosive. It can leave physical, emotional, and spiritual wounds. Learning how to keep anger from exploding into sin is a must in this society. We must not only teach ourselves but our children what to do when anger arises.

Watching the news makes it pretty obvious that we as a society are not doing a good job. Instead of encouraging others to not let their anger spew, it has become acceptable and encouraged. Then people wonder why it seems like every other day violent outbursts are literally killing others.

Being Cautious with Anger

Anger is a tricky thing because it is not a sin to be angry but if we do not deal with it then we can sin in our anger.

We have a set of questions that gets repeated often with a houseful of strong headed kids. These typically get asked when someone becomes angry:

Is it ok to be angry? Yes.

Is it ok to sin in our anger? No.

It is ok if a situation brings feelings of anger, but it’s how we choose to handle that anger that determines whether or not we sin in our anger. So how do we keep anger from exploding into sin?

When Anger Erupts

The other night one of our precious children’s anger erupted into a sinful flow of burning lava. The child at first tried to control it, but then gave completely into it. The child’s demeanor changed and the anger that was boiling inside his heart was so evidently displayed on the face and spewed out through his actions.

It was obvious that our son was struggling. Wanting to lash out was the last thing he wanted to do but he couldn’t figure out how to keep his anger in check.

Keeping Anger from Exploding into Sin

After cooling down a bit, my precious son walked up to me with a Bible in hand, asking for Bible stories about anger. Knowing full well what this child needed to hear, God put a passage on my heart and his. It was amazing how they complimented each other and taught the lesson he needed to hear.

Holding onto to our anger

Because the anger our son had was geared toward another sibling, I chose for us to read Genesis 4, which is the story of when Cain killed his own brother Able.

The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Genesis 4:4b-5

After reading that passage, I pulled our son in close and we started to compare his situation to Cain’s.

Me: Did you notice the description of Cain’s face? It was “downcast.”  Do you know how your face looks right now?

Looking into a mirror, he was quickly able to see what a downcast face looks like. His demeanor changed a little upon seeing the anger written upon his face.

Then we refocused on verses 6-7:

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.

God came to Cain. He asked him why he was angry and warned him not to let sin overtake him. But Cain chose to allow anger to rule his heart instead of leaning in and giving it to God. The result was horrific. He allowed anger to not only rule that moment but his life. He killed his own brother.

In turning back to our son, I asked, “Are you willing to hold onto your justified anger and let it stew in your heart against your brother? God doesn’t recommend it and doesn’t want you to sin by holding on to it. Do you know 1 John  says hating your brother is like murdering him? Do you really want to murder him?

Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
1 John 3:15

Giving our Anger to God

The passage my son asked to read could not have been more perfect for this situation. I was amazed that he even remembered it. We’ve only read the story once while reading through the Chronological Bible, but it obviously made an impact with him. He wanted to read the Number 16, which is the story of Korah leading a rebellion against Moses.

His specific request was, “Mom, can we read the story about when the earth opened up and swallowed those people?” So I’m not sure if in that moment he was hoping for some justification as to why his annoying little sibling should be swallowed up whole or if he remembered how Moses handled his anger. Either way, God was about to use this story to remind both of us of a valuable lesson.

This was the perfect passage because like my son Moses had a reason to be angry, but Moses chose to handle his anger in a completely different way than Cain did.

Then Moses became very angry and said to the Lord, “Do not accept their offering. I have not taken so much as a donkey from them, nor have I wronged any of them.”
Numbers 16:15

Do you see the difference? Moses went straight to God with his anger!  This is exactly what we need to do. When anger balls up in us and we want to lash out, take it to God instead of taking it out on others. Allow God to deal with those who hurt you. Let him dispense justice, but even more pray for them that the person’s heart and attitude will be changed.

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written [Deut. 32:35] : “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
Romans 12:19

And boy did God avenge Moses!

As soon as [Moses] finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart  and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions…And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.
Numbers 16:31,21,35

When Anger Flares up – Stop, Drop, & Pray

Anger much like fire is all consuming. It destroys what holds it as well as everything around it if it is not properly cared for, so when anger flares up in our lives, we need to be like Moses. Stop, drop, & pray!

So that’s exactly what we did. We took the time out to pray and ask God to calm his spirit as well as find better ways of dealing with his siblings.

I don’t want to raise Cains that think it’s ok to let the sin of anger overtake them and unleash their wrath on the world. So we will continue to keep anger from exploding into sin and pray our children will encourage others to do the same as well.

 

 

 

Broken Home Redeemed

Broken Home Redeemed

Sara

Sara

Hello! I am a native So Cal resident. Human Resources by day, but more importantly Mom to a teenage boy who I often refer to as "Man-child".
Sara

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Single Parent Broken Home Redeemed

This is personal, from the heart and the message is hope. If only one single parent reads this and is encouraged it’s mission accomplished.

As a single mom I often feel like the odds are stacked against my son and I. We go through seasons where it seems like we are gaining ground, almost catching up to what seems like everyone else’s normal. Then in my fear, anxiety and exhaustion I lose sight of God’s promise that he will never leave or forsake us and the next thing I know I feel like we are back in a season of failure.

I’m coming to know it as the broken home mindset. Whether it is our living situation, finances, or grades I always feel like there is a “them” and “us” dynamic. Always.

Them = the family that has a husband and wife working as a team, with kids blossoming as a result.

Us =Me unprepared hoping for the best and my kid trusting me to know what the heck I’m doing. (I don’t.)

I constantly have to remind myself that our culture’s measure of success is not God’s design. Is raising my son in a broken home God’s design? No. But, since coming to faith I have learned that our home is only as broken as I allow it to be.

Faith Gives Me Power

Faith gives me power over the heavy reality that I cannot change the past. I cannot undo divorce. I cannot erase the hurt it has caused my son. But I can trust God not to waste the pain, that is the power of the grave. I can trust God to use our story of redemption to encourage others who carry the same burden. I can trust God, period.

I am constantly evaluating the ways my household does not measure up. And I’m often frustrated that our wins seem short lived, I’ll be honest that’s how I’m feeling as I type this. Add to that the guilt I feel for having these thoughts because we are blessed in so many ways! We have so much to be thankful for, but the grass is always greener, right? It’s completely unrealistic for me to compare my home to households that have more resources to accomplish the things that I only wish I could. It’s easy to see my son and I at a disadvantage. But I’ve never encountered a resource more life changing than God himself. Where is the disadvantage in that?

Even still, the “if only” scenarios come in waves. The waters calm for longer periods of time, I’m so thankful for that. But the reality of this life is that those waves are unpredictable in their nature and their ebb and flow is cause for many sighs. I cannot just decide one day that I will never again feel sorry for myself. That’s just not possible. There are too many seemingly picture perfect families around me for that to happen, and my core sin is envy. (I know I know, no family is perfect… envy people. It has no filter). However, I can promise to look up and surrender those moments of weakness to the God who promises this…

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

Calling Out These Thoughts

For transparency sake, and in case someone is reading this feeling isolated by the thoughts that lead us astray, let’s just call out a few of the thought patterns that create the divide and give life to “us” and “them”.

Guilt – “If only I had done [insert long list of regrets] differently, my son would have a better life.” (Right. Because it doesn’t take two to tango.)

Outcast – “My family doesn’t do divorce. Hardly any of my friends are divorced. How did I end up like this? Where do I fit in?” (According to the CDC website, the provisional number of divorces and annulments in the US were 879,000 the year I became a single mother. Looks like I’m not alone after all.)

Unworthy – “I know I’m not worthless as in worth nothing, but I seem to be worth less.”

But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted1 Peter 2:9-10 (MSG)

From a worldly standpoint it may appear that single parent homes are broken homes. But friends, if God has used this trial to bring you to the foot of the cross and you are raising your kids to know and love Jesus and you are living your life in pursuit of God, then wouldn’t you call that a broken home redeemed? You’d be crazy not to.

Here is what you need to do when that broken home mindset kicks in:

  1. Take those thoughts captive that say you are “less than”.
  2. Say the name of Jesus out loud and claim power over the lies that set you back in your moments of weakness. (Those moments will come, but you aren’t powerless against them.) Ask God to replace those lies with truth.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Cor 10:5 (NIV)

You’ve got this, and Gods got you.

 

Trusting God: Wanting Him More Than Anything

Trusting God: Wanting Him More Than Anything

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

With my little baby bundled up in the back seat, we started the drive to the allergy clinic downtown. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Our little one hadn’t been doing so well, and we’d been working with a GI doctor and her pediatrician to figure out what it was her body didn’t like. I was scared and uncomfortable with the process. Uncomfortable with what we might find out. Uncomfortable with what we wouldn’t find out. And frustrated. So, so frustrated that my baby girl was having to go through this.

I was trying to pray, but I wasn’t sure what to pray for. I’d been praying so much for our sweet girl and her troubles. What could I possibly say right now, as we were nearing this critical appointment? About as soon as I had these thoughts I heard this song playing on the radio:

“And I know any second You could take my pain away, but even if you don’t, I pray

Help me want the healer more than the healing.

Help me want the Savior more than the saving.

Help me want the giver more than the giving.

Oh, help me want you Jesus more than anything.”

I burst into tears as I felt God’s arms around me in that moment.

The song went on to talk about the weakness we face on our own and the feeling of overwhelm we can feel from our burdens. It helped me realize that God has already done everything that we need, no matter the circumstance we face.

He sent Jesus. 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16 

Isn’t that all that really matters? Of course, in our humanness we forget. We become consumed by our circumstances and it’s not enough. This is nothing new for our generation.

God’s Presence is Enough

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in the first few books of the Bible lately. Oh, the Israelites–how easy it is for us to judge them! This group of Hebrew slaves has been known through the ages for their complaints. God delivered them, but again and again their struggles consumed them and they started to question God. Their struggles were very real, by the way. Can you even imagine being in their place? Wandering about for years, facing the harsh realities of the desert, and going through foreign lands? Their complaints and questioning frustrated God. God wanted them to understand that his presence with them was enough. He would sustain their needs. He wanted them to trust him.

Why is this so hard? Why do we act like God is never enough? 

Trusting God is Enough

Thankfully, our God is a God of grace and mercy. He knows our weakness. In our faith, we can cast our burden on him (Psalm 55). He hears us and cares for us. We must remember, though, that our true battle is already won. Our hope is not in answered prayers, but in God. So through our struggles, may we want to be drawn closer and closer to the Lord. May we remember the love he has bestowed on us and find peace.

That day, I met my fears head on as I faced the situation I’d been dreading: peanut allergy, among other things. Our family entered a new reality that day, one I still don’t like. I pray boldly, asking God to take this burden away from us, to protect and heal our daughter. While I pray, though, I understand that even more than this, I want God to stay close with us. I want to remember what He’s already done for me. I want to praise Him still, knowing that come what may, He is God, the blood of Christ saved me, and victory is mine. 

Remember God is With You

Whatever struggles you are facing, I encourage you to take hold of the big picture. Draw near to him and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8) I will end this post with Natalie Grant’s song “More Than Anything.” I hope this beautiful song comforts you and reminds you of God’s presence and redeeming love.

 

 

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